BMW goes big as Audi closes the gap

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times
New York
First Published: 22:03 IST(22/11/2012)
Last Updated: 13:23 IST(26/11/2012)
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India’s largest luxury car manufacturer BMW on Thursday made a grand statement of intent by opening its largest showroom in the country yet, a 130,000 square feet integrated facility at the outskirts of Delhi, and launching the new X6, its most expensive SUV at Rs. 78.9-93.4 lakh (ex showroom Delhi).

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The showroom and the launch comes at a time when BMW finds itself increasingly out lapped every passing month by its compatriot Audi for the number one slot in India.

Audi, the third largest in the business last year, has closed the gap from 3,860 units at the start of the year to 122 units this year so far. With two months to go, the battle is intense but only one player is feeling the heat.

“We want to remain the largest luxury car manufacturer, but that cannot be at any price,” said Philipp von Sahr, president, BMW Group India.

“In the short term, it is possible to get sales through discounts but we dont do that. We are looking at sustainable profitable leadership over the long term.”

Despite the four launches this year, including a model change in its entry level sedan 3 series, BMW has been under pressure.

Its sales have declined 8% this year to 7,389 units even as Audi has grown at over 55% to 7,267 units.

“The No. 1 position in 2012 is not our target. We set out to become the second largest at the start of the year and we have more than achieved that target,” said Michael Perschke, head, Audi India.

“Even with fewer sales outlets we are selling more cars and are the fastest growing luxury car brand. That gives us enough satisfaction. We will not go for the No. 1 position just for the sake of it.”

With four more cars to come from BMW next year, including an entry-level premium hatchback 1 series, the temperature is only set to rise.


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